The Auction is the 13th episode of Season 2 of The Cosby Show, also the 36th overall in the series. The episode was directed by Jay Sandrich and written by Gary Kott. The episode originally aired in the United States on NBC on January 9, 1986.


Clair bids on a painting by her great-uncle that her grandmother had once owned. Attempting to win her favor, Elvin tries to bake her a cake, but fails miserably; he then gets advice from Cliff on how to pass himself off as a good cook.

Plot summaryEdit

While leafing through a catalog, Clair sees that a painting by her great uncle is for sale at an auction. S he remembers her childhood when the painting hung in her grandmother's house, but was later sold to pay medical bills. Although the estimated price for the painting is very high, Clair is determined to bring it back into the family. John Marion, head of Sotheby's, the prestigious New York auction house, guest stars as the auctioneer.

Did you know?Edit

  • In the scene where Cliff tries Elvin's cake, Geoffry Owens actually cooked the cake and Bill had to pretend that it tasted awful, as Geoffry is actually a very good cook.
  • In real life, the painting used in the episode is Funeral Procession by Ellis Wilson.
  • On the Complete Series DVD Box Set, the closed captions for this episode refer to Elvin as "Alvin".